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Brocade Communications raises the bar by erasing one

An awful lot of vendors send out an awful lot of press releases touting new partner program perks–new ways that they, the vendors, will help you, the partners, do bigger, better deals.

The trouble is a lot of those press releases are 90% puffery. As in very little meat. (The next time I see a big two- or three-letter company tout its efforts to bring partners into the cloud, there will be trouble.)

Brocade Communications seems to be an exception. Brocade partners are true believers. They like that Brocade remains a technology leader but is not too big to deal with. Many Brocade VARs also rep Hewlett-Packard but consistently complain that HP has become nearly impossible to deal with. And don’t get them started on Cisco.

Last week, Brocade made some real changes to its Alliance Partner Network (APN) that have actual substance. For one thing, Brocade has taken revenue bars off the table. Brocade VARs will now be compensated on their certifications and skill set, not by how much product they sell.

That’s a patent acknowledgement that the partners that often bring the best services and support to the table may not sell the most product. But they are best equipped to implement the product that is sold.

 “We removed the revenue requirement which  is a key thing;” said Barbara Spicek, Brocade’s VP of worldwide channels.

So a Brocade partner that is infrastructure specialized (in storage and networking) get  a point of margin. IF they add  skills in FCoE protocols or converged data center know-how, they get another point of margin.  And if they then get certified on Brocade Virtualized fabric due out next year, they get another few points.

The top-end rebate is now 5% whereas it had been 2% based on growth in the past, Spicek said.

Nigel Lambert, executive VP of Artemis Technology in Chicago, celebrated the erasure of the revenue bar. By doing that, Brocade has truly separated itself from HP and other tech vendors. The rewarding of skill sets means that an integrator that may recommend a vendor’s product but not hold the paper on it, and then performs integration and support services, is compensated for that  work.

 “The revenue thing is really a differentiator,” and shows Brocade is truly pushing solutions vs. point products. Converged infrastructure is the next wave where a few years ago it was VoIP … and what’s interesting ot me is that instead of selling a bunch of little products and linking to revenues, now they talk about solutions for real.”

He said companies like his were at a disadvantage “because we don’t do the revenue volume but integrators bring the value…[Brocade’s move really levels the playing field for us.”

J.Dee Flamming, VP and director of sales for Argyle-Texas based Solid IT Networks concurs.

Brocade is “paying you for your performance instead of revenues. Let’s face it, the big box pushers want to push a ton of stuff at a low price. That doesn’t help the manufacturer or the end user because there’s no one to integrate the solution. If you’re investing like [we do] in engineers, there’s no incentive out there whatsovever to do that … in fact you’re almost punished with the overhead of having very skilled people on staff.”

With this change, in his view,, Brocade is paying partners for that investment. 

Flamming and others also said it does a better job than rivals in making training available for free or very little cost.

“Nothing makes me more upset as a business owner than having a large company like Cisco or Juniper use training as a profit center. It’s a stinking racket,” he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at, or follow us on twitter.

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